Trouble in the Skies: Export Rules Could Stymie Anti-Missile Plans

Article excerpt

As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pay for tests on systems designed to thwart shoulder-fired missiles from taking down commercial airliners, a potential barrier looms on the horizon.

Any time a U.S. commercial aircraft carrying such technology flies overseas, it would be in violation of federal laws prohibiting the export of military technology.

DHS is currently in phase three of a congressionally mandated program to test the feasibility of laser-based counter missile systems. Affordability, maintenance costs and logistical concerns are seen as some of the major roadblocks to implementation. The Arms Export Control Act and its International Traffic in Arms Regulations, better known as ITAR, regulates the export of military technology overseas.

"If you put this technology on a commercial airplane, as soon as you fly overseas, you've exported it," James Tuttle, DHS program executive for the aircraft protection program, said at an Institute for Defense and Government Advancement conference. …